French President Emmanuel Macron castigated, Sunday, September 27, the “Betrayal” from the Lebanese political class, in the aftermath of a failed attempt to form a government in this country more than ever in crisis and shutdown. ” I am ashamed “ for the Lebanese leaders, launched the French president in a serious and tense tone, during a press conference called hastily at the Elysee Palace.
Lebanon finds itself Sunday without the slightest prospect of exiting the crisis after the resignation of Prime Minister designate Moustapha Adib, unable to form a government due to political quarrels over portfolios.
This renunciation appears to mark the failure of the initiative launched by Mr. Macron after the tragic explosion of August 4 at the port of Beirut, a new test for a country in the grip of the worst economic, social and political crisis in its history.
The political parties had pledged to Mr. Macron, who came to Beirut in early September, to form a cabinet of ministers “Competent” and “Independent” within two weeks, a condition for the dispatch of the international aid necessary for the recovery of the country. Sunday evening, the French head of state “Took note of the collective betrayal” Lebanese parties which, according to him, “Bear full responsibility” of this failure.
“Hezbollah must not think it is stronger than it is”
His word was expected – “A renunciation of serious repercussions and all eyes turned to Macron”, headlined Sunday the Arabic-speaking daily Annahar – but the options available to him seem limited immediately. The leaders of the Cedar Country have a ” last chance “ to respect their commitments, in order to constitute a “Mission government and get international aid”, he urged.
Throwing in the towel on Saturday, Adib said he saw the lack of consensus among the parties despite the urgent need to carry out the reforms called for by the international community to unlock billions of dollars in aid.
Fears are growing for a further deterioration of the situation in the country, where the ruling class, virtually unchanged for decades, is accused of corruption, incompetence and indifference by a large part of the population.
The head of state must now conduct further binding parliamentary consultations to appoint a prime minister. But this process risks, once again, dragging on and even failing.
The formation of the government was hampered by demands by the Shiite Hezbollah party, an ally of Iran which dominates Lebanese politics, and its ally Amal, who demanded the finance portfolio. Observers say their stubbornness is linked to US sanctions imposed on an Amal finance minister and two Hezbollah-affiliated companies.
Hezbollah “Must not think he is stronger than he is”, criticized Sunday evening Emmanuel Macron. This party “Cannot at the same time be an army at war against Israel, a militia unleashed against civilians in Syria and a respectable party in Lebanon. It is up to him to show that he respects the Lebanese as a whole. In recent days, he has clearly shown the opposite ”. “The will of Amal and Hezbollah was not to make any concessions”, denounced the French president.
A horizon of “four to six weeks”
Emmanuel Macron casts a horizon of “Four to six weeks” so that international donors can see if it is still possible for Lebanon to endow itself with a mission government or if a complete paradigm shift for the country of the Cedar should be considered.
“In about a month, a month and a half, we will have to take stock (…). If there is no progress internally, then we will be forced to consider a new phase very clearly and to ask the question of confidence: is a mission government on the basis of the roadmap is still possible? Or should we change the situation at that point and perhaps go down a more systemic path of political recomposition in Lebanon? “, he said, adding that it would be a lead “Very adventurous”.
Mr Macron ruled that, failing an agreement on the bases mentioned in August, Lebanon risked either ” civil war “, or to continue to get bogged down with a government of “Profiteers”. And in any case, that the country could not count under these conditions on international financial assistance which it sorely needs.
Fears for the country are also of a security nature, with an upsurge in violence. On Sunday, two soldiers were killed by “Terrorists” according to the army, in the aftermath of the deaths of nine members of a cell linked to the jihadist group Islamic State in northern Lebanon.
The drama of too much
For its part, the United States said “Disappointed with the Lebanese political class, which did not place the people in front of political politics”. “Everything continues as before in Beirut”, lamented a spokesman for American diplomacy.
Mr. Adib succeeded Hassan Diab, who resigned after the devastating explosion on August 4 in a warehouse where large quantities of ammonium nitrate were stored at the port of Beirut: more than 190 dead, more than 6,500 injured and destroyed neighborhoods.
This was too much drama in a country suffering from a plummeting national currency, hyperinflation and large-scale impoverishment of its population, not to mention the Covid-19 pandemic. On Monday, President Michel Aoun, an ally of Hezbollah, warned that Lebanon would move towards “Hell” in the absence of a new government.
For political scientist Karim Bitar, “If we do not go to hell, we will probably see an escalation of violence, a weakening of public institutions, a worsening of the economic crisis and a wave of emigration”.